One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels
Neva Dinova is the brainchild of Jake Bellows, a singer/songwriter who, like Oberst, is from Omaha, Nebraska. The two reconvened in 2009 at producer Mike Mogis' Presto! Studios to record the four new songs found on this collection. And while the new material maintains the effortless feel of the original tracks, the new songs reflect an added maturity and depth that six more years in the music industry is bound to bring. Neva Dinova's first new offering, 'Rollerskating,' kicks the album off spiritedly, and is reminiscent of Oberst's recent work with Monsters Of Folk, with Bellows voice echoing M. Ward's at the start of the song. The relaxed nature of the session and easy camaraderie of the participants shines through on this leisurely but still uplifting track. 'Happy Accident' finds Oberst now looking for the happiness that he famously discarded on his 1998 album Letting Off The Happiness. It's a highly suggestive nod to his past, especially now that the future of Bright Eyes is in question, and fits in nicely to his ever growing canon of songs while distancing himself from his increasingly countrified current output.
'Someone's Love' is quite stellar, and the best of the four new songs on offer here, showcasing Bellows sleepy drawl over a bouncy barroom piano riff. The lyrics grow progressively more suggestive as the subject grows bolder and drunker, and as the night begins to fade he just wants someone finer than himself to take him down, giving him more than just a bar-stool to live for. The last of the new tracks is Bright Eyes 'I Know You,' which hints at the lyrical cadence of Cassadaga's 'Coat Check Dream Song.' It's a strong, dynamic song featuring some fine couplets from Oberst as well as a stellar trumpet solo, and again represents a subtle shift in form for Conor, returning to the more plaintive, pleading tones of his older material. For those that have the original release of Vessels, this concludes the new songs recorded for the reissue, but that shouldn't prevent you from rediscovering the stark beauty of the songs on the initial EP. And for those who haven't heard these earlier songs, the new material should serve as a smooth gateway into these older but no less affecting songs.
There is a homespun charm to all of these older tracks, recorded in a variety of Omaha basements in 2004, with a simplicity and warmth to them that permeates all of the material. The songs never try to sound polished or perfect, but somehow still managing to come off as accomplished and poignant just the same. Bellows and Oberst again alternate material, assuming lead vocals on each of their own songs other than the Oberst-penned closer 'Spring Cleaning,' which has Bellows singing the somber lead. And while the songs are somewhat slight and intentionally underproduced, there are some hidden gems here, like the melancholy passion of 'Black Comedy' and 'Poison,' as well as the saxophone aided, Springsteen-stomp of 'I'll Be Your Friend.' Both the new and old songs on One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels, reflects the casual sound of two old friends returning to their simple roots and playing music together, something Oberst and Bellows have been doing since they were kids. And that carefree conviviality comes through clearly in the music, which was never intended to change the world, just to give some kindred spirits an excuse to jam together. We should all be so lucky to have such talented friends.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3